Double consonants

Lots of Italian words contain one or more double consonants that are pronounced with greater intensity, lingering on the consonant sound for longer than if it were just a single consonant.

L'abbaglio , la palla , i piccioni , la vetta , tutto .

The blunder; the ball; the pigeons; the tip; everything.

Here are some commonly used double consonants, along with their pronunciations:

  • bb as in:

L'obbligo ; il fabbro ; arrabbiato .

The obligation; the blacksmith; angry.

  • cc as in:

La giacca ; accettare ; la racchetta .

The jacket; to accept; the racket.

  • ll as in:

L'allarme ; brillare ; il pollo .

The alarm; to shine; the chicken.

  • mm as in:

La mamma ; il dramma ; infiammare .

The mom; the play; to set on fire.

  • pp as in:

La zuppa ; la seppia ; strappare .

The soup; the cuttlefish; to tear.

  • tt as in:

Tutto ; attaccare ; l'attenzione .

Everything; to attack; attention.

Double consonants are generally found in the following:

  • Words formed of certain prefixes (ne, se, su, fra, così, sopra, contra…) + another word

Ne + pure → neppure ; se + bene → sebbene .

Not even; even though.

Fra + tempo → frattempo ; sopra + mobile → soprammobile .

Meantime; ornament.

  • Lots of other words that don't follow any specific rules, which is why it's important to check in the dictionary.

Lo scatto , il cammello , il pacchetto , bello .

The snapshot, the camel, the package, beautiful.

Note: with some words, the presence of a double consonant completely changes the meaning.

Il tono vs il tonno ; il capello vs il cappello ; le note vs la notte .

The tone → the tuna; the hair → the hat; the notes → the night.

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